After diving head-first into the Ever-and-Ever-Prolixity, Charlotte Pollard and her new travel companion Robert Buchan finally find themselves back on planet Earth. However, in usual fashion, Charley doesn’t take long to appreciate being back on familiar ground as a new mystery unfolds.
Hospital deaths, food shortages, strange identical men – they’re all connected, and the source of it all is at Embankment Station…
A Bigger Adventure
Whereas the first Charlotte Pollard series was comprised of four individual adventures with an overarching storyline, this second season is instead one big adventure spread across four separate parts. Given the strong mystery element of the story, this was a good decision to make, as it allows the tension to gradually build as the answers are drawn out over the course of the set.
This really is a set best experienced all in one go, as each part immediately follows on from the last and just keeps piling on the questions. It isn’t until the very end that either the characters or the listener have a full picture of just what is happening, creating a perfect (if excruciating) hook for the next instalment. This is just one part of a much bigger picture.
Charley finds herself in a more Doctor-like role than ever as this time she is accompanied by Robert Buchan, who joined her at the end of the last series in search of adventure (an idea he now often regrets!). India Fisher and James Joyce have already created an excellent rapport between the two characters, as their relationship continually fluctuates. One minute they are united space/time travellers, the next they’ll be bickering – and every so often there’s even a hint of romance thrown in. It’s a much wider spectrum of emotions than the platonic Doctor and his companion, and right from the very beginning, this is taken full advantage of to demonstrate a new side to Charley Pollard.
However, the story isn’t too over-reliant on its lead characters, with Deirdre Mullins and Ashley Kumar putting in equally great performances as news reporter Naomi Davies and her tech-geek sidekick Rab. Initially, they work as the driving force behind uncovering the mysteries going on at Embankment, eventually leading them to an encounter with Charley and Robert.
The Viryan Factor
She might have finally escaped their captivity but Charley isn’t quite done with the Viyrans yet. Dan Starkey returns once again as the rogue Viyran (now affectionately named Betram), with his appearance raising, even more, questions about the unknown origins of this alien race. It’s always nice to hear Starkey in a non-Sontaran role, but here he excels as the enigmatic Betram – who despite his noble actions you can’t help but be somewhat wary of. This especially comes to a head in the final part of the story, as the Proto-Viyrans appear and everything takes an unexpectedly dark turn.
With back stories covered and loose-ends neatly tied up, this is where Charley’s adventures can truly begin, with this slightly-changed format offering noticeable improvement from her first solo outing. The lengthier story format allows for far better character interaction and development, and the music has also had a much-needed energy boost to fit the tenser proceedings.
That said, the final part suffers somewhat from removing Charley and Robert from the main action – creating a rather disjointed conclusion as they spend the majority of the part away in a completely unrelated place. Thankfully by this point, the new cast members have been built up well enough to carry it in their absence, even though the set lacks a definitive ending.
Final hurdle stumble aside, Charlotte Pollard Series Two remains a thrilling adventure that proves Charley has what it takes to go on even without the Doctor at her side.
Blogtor Rating – 9/10
Charlotte Pollard. Space-time traveller. Former emissary of the mysterious and terrifying Viyrans.
Now she’s cast adrift and finds herself and unlikely adventurer Robert Buchan brought right down to Earth — but an Earth which is changing rapidly.
Why and how have they crash-landed in the London Underground? Who are the Identical Men? And why is human behaviour starting to change in startling and unexpected ways?
Charley, Robert and their friend the Rogue Viyran must find out if they are the solution or the cause.
Deep underground, something is stirring. Fragments of an alien design are coalescing…
Part 1: Embankment Station – A bumpy arrival, journalism, politics and a security crisis.
Part 2: Ruffling – Hiding in a bank, on the run, trapped underground.
Part 3: Seed of Chaos – Tube train trouble, the chaos begins, the Prime Minister arrives.
Part 4: The Destructive Quality of Life – Marooned on an alien world, a ‘concentration camp’ in Slough, messaging through space and time.
Written By: Nicholas Briggs
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs
India Fisher (Charlotte Pollard), James Joyce (Robert Buchan), Dan Starkey (Rogue Viyran), Deirdre Mullins (Naomi Davies), Kieran Hodgson (Woking), Ashley Kumar (Rab), Rachel Atkins (Minister), Helen Goldwyn (Lysette Allegro), Pippa Haywood (Prime Minister), Colin McFarlane (The Identical Men), Karen Henson (Madeline), Gary Turner (Captain Warwick), Ben Crowe (Sergeant Hunter), Glen McCready (David Shillingford/Gelrasian/Guard/Proto-Viyran/Donald Predko/Soldiers).
Producer and Script Editor: Scott Handcock
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs